Connectivism is an exciting idea, it focuses on networks, both neural networks and networks of people. It is completely learner centred and recognises that individuals learn in different ways. Pattern recognition is a key underlying principle, connectivism suggests that the use of language and logic and other linguistic systems is not really representative of how knowledge is formed, is there such a thing as pieces of knowledge at all? What is of primary importance is the ability to recognise patterns, it’s not really the content that’s important it’s the making of connections and forming of networks. This is even more important as knowledge is increasing rapidly and also either becoming redundant or changing rapidly, it now has a half-life (the period from creation to redundancy) of a matter of a few months in some cases.
In existing educational systems, the MOOC being the most popular example of the application of connectivism’s ideas, the learner is given full control of their own learning, they are able to follow interests and pathways, the learning has some structure and is paced but within that structure the learner is free to make whatever connections they want. Ultimately, learning continues long after the course has finished and, providing they are maintained, any networks formed (both internal and external) can continue to grow and evolve.
The learner constructs their own ecology of resources from which they gather information, they can also contribute to discussion, for example through a blog. Information can also be shared again through blog posts, social media, discussion boards and forums.